May Belfort

Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec
May Belfort

An original Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec Lithograph print.


Original lithograph printed in four colors (olive green, red, black, yellow) on wove poster paper.

Signed on the stone with the artist’s monogram device lower left.

A fine impression of the fourth version of Wittrock’s second and final state (state “B”), Adriani’s fourth state of five. Printed after the removal of the remarque from the upper right quadrant of the stone, and the addition of the name and address of the printer lower right. Printed by Edouard Kleinmann, Paris.

Catalog: Delteil 354; Adhemar 116; Wittrock P14Biv; Adriani 126 iv/v

31 3/4 x 24 1/4 inches

May Belfort, a pretty young Irish singer of old songs and ballads who fancied Kate Greenaway dresses, puffed sleeves and a ruffled mob cap surmounted by a bow, was probably seen by Lautrec in 1895 at Les Decadents a noisy, picturesque "cafe-concert". She often cradled a black cat in her arms while she sang; as Gustave Coquiot recalled, "This bleating ewe in a baby costume, with ringlets tumbling over her shoulder…. held a black kitten in her arms and sang, ‘I’ve got a little cat, and I’m very fond of that…’ while the audience would shout the chorus." (The song in question is the famous 1892 English music-hall number "Daddy Wouldn’t Buy Me a Bow-Wow," words and music by Joseph Tabrar.)

Excerpt from National Gallery of Liverpool, Walker Art Gallery:
“The Irish singer May Belfort worked in London music halls before arriving in Paris in January 1895. Her slightly disturbing and thinly-veiled erotic act was performed wearing the dress of a little girl with large puffed sleeves and an enormous bonnet. Often she clutched a cat which referred to her most famous song, ‘Daddy wouldn’t buy me a bow-wow’.”